Thursday, April 30, 2009

Happy May! Random day.

* I invented a cake tonight. Well, sort of. It was a plain-Jane chocolate cake, one layer, mix in one bowl, to which I added a stiff spoonful of espresso powder. I plan to frost it with a thin layer of Nutella and top with toasted hazelnuts. I think I inadvertently made the cake version of the Fool's favorite Starbucks drink, the hazelnut latte.

* I am thinking very longingly of lentils and rice with toasty onions on top. This might be lunch sooner rather than later. It reminds me of college.

* My fruit trees bloomed when I wasn't looking.

* Ever since I read in some folklore book that girls, to ensure a clear complexion, washed their face in the May Day dew, I have done this religiously. I kid you not.

* Whenever I sheepishly admit to the Fool something that Jamie did when I wasn't noticing too closely, such as trying to eat a dead bug out of the sliding door track, the Fool outdoes me. He admitted today that last night, while I was at knit group, Jamie found my house flip-flops and licked the entire sole of one of them. That kid is going to have the most amazing immune system .... sigh. I feel like this might be the rhythm of parenting. Whatever you feel like you did wrong, your spouse has probably done as bad, if not worse, and just hasn't told you yet.

* I wish I could go see someone dance up the sun tomorrow. A lot of my friends are either dancing with Morris sides or watching in their home towns, and I wish I were too.

* Lace, lace, lace. This is all I am interested in knitting these days.

* Except for today, when I tried to knit a stockinette portion of a sock and messed it up right and left. I put decreases in weird places, I forgot how to knit a heel flap, crazy, crazy stuff.

* Oh, and I also made Jamie a pair of pants from "Weekend Sewing." I have much more to say about this, once I get the waistband taken in correctly. They're very good pants, if I do say so myself. I quilt enough that I have a good stash of fabric in patterns any discerning baby would be thrilled to wear. As long as that baby is cool with frogs on his bum.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Back to Knitting

I'm taking some time off from KnitML to work on Jamie's 18-month Dale of Norway sweater.

We found this pattern in Seattle almost a year ago, and I had only gotten as far as the cast on round.

Except it's not quite in that color. The body is blue and yellow with touches of red. I had originally bought this pattern but could not locate the correct amount of yarn for it (darn discontinued colors). One of the ladies at Knitche, however (which, by the way, is the coolest LYS ever), not only helped me pick out good substitute Dale colors, but she also dipped into her personal stash of discontinued forest green and brought them to the store for me. Talk about service!

By the way, has anyone ever marveled at the sheer number of yarn stores whose names are puns on knitting, stitches, or sheep? I mean, to open a punned yarn store these days, you have to be pretty darn original.

Okay, off to knitting... I mean, work. :)

Friday, April 24, 2009

Finished objects

And not a minute too soon, either. I'm off to a party for the recipients, two little twins - Zoe and Daniel - born to Miriam (she of the rabbit hat) and her husband.

They're the baby bib from Mason-Dixon Knitting, and I have to say, I have a conflicted relationship with the Mesdames Mason-Dixon. On one hand, their blog and their books are funny - really funny.
On the other hand, I can't imagine a universe in which I would want to knit a garter stitch rug. I'm not such a huge fan of garter stitch, despite the fine work of Brooklyn Tweed and Elizabeth Zimmerman, and "knitted rug" seems like the fiber-arts definition of eternity, not two people and a ham.
So why do I have their linen lace curtain on the needles and four baby bibs in a gift bag? I'm not sure. I do know the baby bibs were just what I needed to knit when Jamie insisted I spend all my waking moments sitting on the rug so he could periodically cling to me, limpet-like, before rolling off to lick electrical sockets, grab the cats' feet and try to ingest entire books.
Garter stitch is great to knit under those conditions - you can throw your knitting down in case you suddenly have to race across the room and confiscate an entire vacuum cleaner, rescue a cat or prevent a baby from pulling a snare drum over on top of himself.
(OK, the last thing wasn't actually preventable, and Jamie managed to miss himself entirely with the drum, so I think the crying was mostly because of the scary noise and not an actual injury, much like the time the cats knocked over a stack of tambourines at 3 a.m. What? Doesn't everyone have a stack of tambourines?)
The buttons are from the late Grandma Fool's button box and now that I have to leave for the city and am still sitting here in my pajama pants and a fleece pullover, Jamie has fallen asleep on my lap for a much-needed morning nap.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Starting 'em young

Jamie and I went to the big quilt show in Chicago on Friday. The Fool was out of town for a couple days in Pittsburgh, helping his mom clean out his late grandmother's house because his mom has succeeded in selling it (in this real estate market! Go Mama Fool!) and the new residents want to move in.

She sold it to some nice people, too, who really sound like they appreciate all the work his family put into that house. His grandmother built it herself and it's got a big yard and all sorts of other features that homemade houses tend to have (such as crazy amounts of insulation. My father did that too, when he built this place - insulated it to death. I'm glad, because it makes the energy bills lower, but it made me think about what people give priorities to when they're truly allowed to customize their houses. Neither of them spent money on granite countertops and custom closets, y'know?)

Anyway, she wanted us to have some of his grandmother's furniture and other belongings and so the Fool rented a big yellow Penske truck and brought the stuff all back. His mom got a little carried away - she saw the big truck and thought this was her chance to give us all the stuff she's been saving. So Jamie has all of his dad's Legos for when he gets older, and a big canister of
Lincoln Logs and perhaps everything Dr. Seuss ever wrote and all kinds of other treasures.

And we have to figure out where it all goes.

But I digress. Jamie and I decided to occupy ourselves on Friday by going to the quilt show.
Let me tell you, taking a baby into what amounted to a convention hall mostly full of grandmas? Fantastic idea. I was wearing him on my back, and seriously, every six feet, someone stopped me to tell me he was still sleeping, or tell me he'd woken up, or ask what his name was or just visit with him.
So while Jamie was asleep, I did some shopping and bought a bit of fabric to finish up various projects, and while he was awake, we walked around and looked at the quilts on display.

Like most years, this show had a mix of quilts I can use for inspiration and quilts I couldn't make in a million years.

The Breath of Life, by Harumi Asada, of Japan.

detail of The Breath of Life.

This one's for you, Crazy Lanea. It's Two Ravens, by Donna Bray-Zakreski, from BC, Canada

Isn't that a cool idea? Kind of a kaleidoscope effect. I forgot to photograph the placard too, so unfortunately, I don't know who made this.

Here's a detail of Swim 4 Me, by Betty Busby of New Mexico, which was part of an exhibit of spring-themed quilts.

While I was looking for crow quilts to show Crazy Lanea, I found this instead and thought three purple guinea fowl might be an OK substitute. This is Three Guinea Fowl, by Pamela Allen of Ontario.

This is Furrowed Fields, by Rosemary Cromer of Kansas. I saw another striped fabric quilt in a Kaffe Fassett book I got from the library, but what I like about this quilt is how some of the mitered blocks have an off-kilter piece in them, so the stripes in the material go a little wonky.

This was my absolute favorite quilt in the whole show this year. Red Owls, by Karen Peirce. I couldn't stop staring at it, giggling at the funny owls. The background is hand-quilted in a dark thread, with all kinds of botanical designs, leaves and twigs and similar. There's some snakes in here too. I guess what I like about it is not only the personality of each owl, but the way they look like owls I might draw - not very 'artistic' or realistic. The impact of all of them together is so charming and funny - as a quilter, I find this kind of work very easy to relate to. It's making me think about drawing some owls myself to see what they look like.
That, and so many quilts are so Very Very Serious and Historical or Stunningly Beautiful, that I'm always surprised and refreshed to find one that makes me smile. I like humor in art.

This is a bad cat who goes into the kitchen garbage looking for dinner scraps, and who we busted teaching Angus how to get chicken last night.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Got a book from the library

...called "The Gentle Art of Domesticity," by Jane Brocket, an English writer. I've picked this up a few times at the bookstore, so I was glad to see it at the library, where I can take it home, read it and decide whether I want to buy it. Her photographs are beautiful and she knits some things here and there (including some great tea cozies, but, no patterns, Jane? Just one?)
I've been enjoying the book. She is a fan of Kaffe Fassett quilts, as am I. I like his quilts better than his knitting patterns, to be honest.
She also gave a recipe for Battenberg cake, which figured in the plot of a Jasper Fforde novel I like quite a bit, and each time I came up against this, I wondered what kind of a cake it is. Now I know (sponge, in a checkerboard pattern, with apricot jam and marzipan on the outside).
Her baking recipes often include golden syrup, which is useful to me, because Edward gave me a tin of it as a Christmas present (apparently, there's a tin of treacle in his pantry with my name on it too) and I've been scrambling to figure out how to use this stuff. Edward informs me that you can use golden syrup to make treacle tart and that he will email his mom for his grandmother's recipe, the ne plus ultra of treacle tarts, apparently.

(Side note: Fun party game. Name foods that do not contain the ingredient implied by the title. Treacle tart, for example, does not contain treacle. Sweetbreads are neither sweet nor bread. Rocky Mountain oysters are not oysters ... you get the drift.)

Back to the golden syrup. I plan to test her book out by making flapjacks this afternoon. Which are not pancakes. They are a chewy oat bar, held together in part by golden syrup. (Add them to the list of foods that are not what the name implies.)

Anyway. I've been thinking about domestic life a bit since reading her book, as that is what mine has boiled down to. I call it "being a prisoner on my own area rug." The warden is cute and all, but Jamie has made my world smaller than it used to be. Some days, I'm fine with that, and other days, it rankles. I can't exactly spend my time embroidering pillowcases and baking tea breads, either, as Jamie wants to get in everything I'm doing and see what it's all about. So I've been knitting more garter stitch than I used to and have to save the more technical cabled patterns, or in fact, anything requiring me to refer to a pattern - Jamie likes to eat paper - for when he is asleep.

Where is this going? Not sure yet. But I'm still not embroidering.

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

We pause in our regularly scheduled baby knitting....

... to bring you some extra baby knitting.
It's for Connor, the freshly born son of my friends Karl and Jeannette. He arrived after putting his mom through a long labor, is 8 lbs. and change and presumably, perfect. Haven't heard much from the new parents.
the Fool and I are going to be in their neighborhood this weekend, so I wanted to make a little something that wasn't an Ann Norling fruit cap, which is what I reflexively cast on for when I hear there's a new baby around.
Presenting Cisco, a free pattern from Berroco, on the head of a baby who thought getting up at 7 a.m. would be a great thing to do today. Also, who has been trying to bite a button off a cushion all morning and who spent his time at the park trying to eat oak leaves.

I've been wanting to knit this for a while, and thought it would be a great way to use up odds and bobs of cotton yarn, which it was. I love the bright colors, but I bet any assortment of a half dozen would work well, depending on your mood and what you thought the baby might like. Brooklyn Tweed knitted one, only in handspun wool and all tasteful-like, which is another way to go and which would eliminate one of the problems with this hat, illustrated below.
The pattern, while free, had a couple glitches. First, it recommended you pick up stitches in what is essentially a horseshoe shape, on a straight needle. I switched to circulars. Second, one of the numbers was iffy, and once I did some arithmetic, I saw why it was making an off-center row of eyelets down the front of the hat.
Those things on the top are ears, says the pattern, but look more like horns, said my friend Carrie. They're knitted in a clever manner; there is no seaming to this hat. It's all picking up and knitting, which I like.
Decreases and increases for the front give it a bit of a zigzaggy thing going on.

Otherwise, it's a fun knit and I think it's tremendously cute.
Which is great, because this is what the inside looks like. In thinking about it, I should have tried carrying some of the strands up the side. This is ridiculous.

Romeo says thanks for the welcoming wishes and of course, his bottom is a heat-seeking device, which is why he likes to sit on wool. And Jamie's big Winnie the Pooh, too. Here he and Angus are, doing their thing.

And now back to the other baby knitting, which shall be revealed in the fullness of time.

Monday, April 06, 2009

I don't get it

There must be thousands of square feet of flat surface in this house. Thousands.
So Romeo has to find the two square feet I'm using to block knitwear when he wants to take a nap.

Friday, April 03, 2009

Lorna called me out at knit group

She asked if we'd ever reached a decision on the fourth cat.
Well, we did.

We decided to see how he fit in. It turns out that for once, this is a cat that got the memo.
Romeo plays with Angus and leaves the girls alone. Angus leaves the girls alone, at least more than he did before, and to some degree, leaves us alone too. He seems to visit us more for cuddling and petting, and not wrestling and biting our feet and hands.
It was a little unnerving at first, two cats silently rolling around on the floor without the bloodcurdling shrieks we'd come to expect from Spoot, who can be a bit overly dramatic about things.
The Fool messaged his friend in Seattle, Five-Cats Matt, who assured us that silent wrestling is probably consensual wrestling when cats are concerned.
So now, Angus and Romeo roll around on the floor with each other, entertaining us all, and Spoot and Mab are mostly unpestered.

The knitting continues, but I can't talk about it right now. It's for some impending babies and the mom drops in here from time to time.